McCarthy: We Can't Afford to Drop Any Further Behind
Tuesday, 8th Apr 2014 06:00
Boss Mick McCarthy believes the Blues can’t afford to drop any further behind the play-off places as they go into tonight’s crucial away game at Huddersfield. Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Blackburn saw Town slip to ninth, five points from Reading in the final play-off place.
“We can’t,” he admitted. “And I think we’re six points behind really, I know it says five but the goal difference makes it six, without a doubt, I don’t think we’re going to make that up.
“But Reading have got Bournemouth tonight and Bournemouth are the team that are flying with the victories that they’ve had.
“We’ve got Bournemouth to come and Reading have got some crazy fixtures, they’ve got all the top teams to play.
“It’s still there to be played for, there’s no question about that but we need something out of the Huddersfield game, three points would be nice. If we get three then I think we’re still right in the mix.
“But if we get beaten and the other teams around us win, that would make it exceptionally difficult.”
The Town boss is normally happy to take a point from away matches and even in the current circumstances wouldn’t be too unhappy to draw: “I’d take a point from it. I wouldn’t say I’d stay here and not travel up if they offered me the point because we could do with three.
“If there’s a gamble going on, we’ve got to renege on that and go up and try and get the three points, which is what we’re going to try and do.
“I looked at the three games that we’ve got this week and if we got five points, two away from home and three at home, I’d have thought it was a good week. We’ve got a chance to get six now.”
With Huddersfield not in the play-off race and not in immediate danger of going down it might be argued it’s a good time to play them, however, McCarthy says the situation could be viewed in the opposite way.
“Somebody up there in Huddersfield will be saying exactly the same to Mark Robins,” he said. “‘Probably a good time to play Ipswich, they’ve travelled up, they’ve just been beaten, they’ve gone home, they’ve got to come up here again, they’re not likely to go up because they’re six points behind people, they’re not the favourites and they’re under pressure to get the points’.
“All that nonsense that goes on. When is it a good time to play? It’s about your own performance. If we go up there thinking that it’s a good time to play them and we don’t play, we’ll get slapped.
“If we go up there and think we need to get three points and we’re right bang at it, we could always win a game. That’s been proved. That’s my mentality. I’m not worried about what anyone else is thinking.”
He says he generally takes a positive approach into games in any case, usually fielding two strikers, although lately having employed Jonny Williams behind lone out-and-out frontman Daryl Murphy.
“Throughout my career I’ve usually played 4-4-2, it’s just maybe personnel which has dictated it,” he said. “If David McGoldrick was fit I might still be playing 4-4-2.
“If Didz was fit I might not have taken Jonny Williams, but Jonny Williams is a fabulous attacking player and whether it’s been Ando and Hunty or Frank and Woody on Saturday [in the wide roles], we have tried to win the games.
“It’s not through trying to win games that’s cost us, we’ve not been wide open. That was just a momentary loss of concentration on Saturday but I have to say it was a fabulous finish by them.”
Despite Huddersfield having failed to win any of their last seven games and dropping to 17th in the table McCarthy feels manager Mark Robins is in charge of a decent side having been impressed with them during Town's 2-1 victory at Portman Road earlier in the season: “I think he’s got a good squad of players.
“They came down here and I they took the lead and we equalised. They hit the crossbar just before half-time, Adam Hammill with a great strike.
“They had a penalty which was a bit of a joke decision, but we saved it and we went on and won the game.
“But just before half-time they were showing what a really good team they are, what a good squad of players they are and we could have lost it.
“So, no way is it an easy game. Tuesday night in Huddersfield, under lights. If that was me up there with Ipswich coming I’d be looking forward to it. We’ll go and see and do our best.”
With the games coming thick and fast, he says training sessions are limited at present: “They’re non-existent really. TC and myself were just discussing that and the 10 [outfielders] who played on Saturday will do nothing [on Monday], they’ll have a gentle jog and a warm-up with Andy Liddell.
“There’ll be some 10x10 boxes, just keeping the ball, a bit of fun and then they’ll be in. And they’ll be in the pool Tuesday lunchtime before the game.
“The eight that didn’t play on Saturday will just have a little four v four for probably 10 minutes because that’s intense, four v four. If anybody thinks they’re not doing a great deal, that’s hard work, that.
“And some of that eight might have to play, so it’s really just keeping them going for the remainder of the fixtures and not taking too much out of their legs. Plus we’ve got however long it takes up to Huddersfield.”
Bearing in mind where Town were a year ago when they last travelled to take on the Terriers in a scrappy game that ended 0-0, he says they are moving in the right direction: “That’s great progression. If we don’t get in the top six, and of course it’s somebody else’s to lose now, I’ll be disappointed because I think we’ve had a good enough season.
“Then maybe when I go away, if we’re not in the top six, and I reflect on it, I’ll think we had a good season. But there are some good teams up there.
“Last year’s game up there was almost as turgid as the Millwall game, it was just awful on an awful pitch, on a dry, blustery day. It was a great point because we were trying to stay in the league.”
Informed that Town have won games immediately following their last four defeats, he added: “Let’s hope that continues.”
McCarthy seems certain to again stick with the same back four for the 25th successive league game – Luke Chambers skippering at right-back, Aaron Cresswell on the left and Tommy Smith and Christophe Berra in the centre. Dean Gerken will continue in goal.
In midfield, the Town boss is again likely to name Cole Skuse and Luke Hyam in the centre, while Anthony Wordsworth could again take up a right-sided role.
McCarthy could continue with Frank Nouble on the left or may recall Stephen Hunt, while Jonny Williams again seems set to play in behind Daryl Murphy.
Huddersfield manager Mark Robins says is wary of Town’s threat from freekicks and corners: "Ipswich score a high percentage of their goals from set plays, which we've got to be better at.
"If I was Mick McCarthy, I would certainly be looking at that, so I am certainly looking at it from our point of view.
"We have to be strong and physical against their physical threat, but they have also started to move and pass the ball a bit differently to before and they've also got another string to their bow in that they can go direct to some big powerful players.
"We have to cope with that and it's another great challenge. They've got a lot of experience in their line-up, but we will maybe look to tweak one or two things and go again."
Robins will be without striker James Vaughan, who is due to undergo knee surgery on Thursday, while defender Joel Lynch is over a groin problem. Midfielder Keith Southern (groin) and striker Danny Carr (knee) remain sidelined.
Historically, Town have won 20 games between the sides (including the only cup tie), the Terriers 11, with seven ending in draws.
Huddersfield haven’t beaten Town since November 1999, but the Blues have never won at the Terriers’ current ground, now known as the John Smith's Stadium. Their last away victory over the Yorkshiremen came back in 1988 at their former home Leeds Road when the John Duncan’s side won 2-1.
Earlier this season, in December at Portman Road, Daryl Murphy headed home a late winner as the Blues came from behind to win 2-1.
The Terriers were deservedly ahead at the break via Danny Ward, skipper James Vaughan having had a penalty saved at Town for the second successive season, but David McGoldrick equalised soon after the restart then Murphy won it in the 89th minute.
In February, the teams shared the points from a scrappy and scruffy 0-0 draw at the John Smith’s Stadium.
The Terriers had the game’s two significant chances with Lee Novak shooting wide when well placed in the first half, then after the break Stephen Henderson blocked from the striker and then the rebound from midfielder Neil Danns.
Blues striker Alan Lee was with the West Yorkshiremen until last summer before returning to his old club.
Former Town frontman Jon Stead is a Huddersfield player but is currently on loan at Bradford, while Nakhi Wells had a trial at Town as a 19-year-old in 2010.
Tonight’s referee is Mark Brown from East Yorkshire, who has shown 66 yellow cards and seven red in 28 games so far this season.
Brown’s most recent Town game was the 2-1 home victory over Burnley in November 2012 in which he booked Nigel Reo-Coker and two Clarets.
Squad from: Gerken, Loach, Chambers, Richardson, Cresswell, Mings, Berra, Smith, Skuse, Hyam, Wordsworth, Anderson, Green, Hunt, Tabb, Henshall, Williams, Nouble, Murphy, Ebanks-Blake, Taylor.
Photo: Action Images
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